August 10th, 2014


Dead In Allendale

What's up with restaurants in and around Allendale? Okay, okay, I know that the restaurant business has a high rate of failure. But I'm talking about good restaurants, i.e. ones we like. (grin) The Applebees are always stuffed to gills, wherever they land. Sigh.

Wednesday I discovered that the whole Sam's Joint chain seems to be gone. Today we drove past the Coopersville store at I-96 and Exit 19. The big road sign is still there, I just wasn't looking for it before. Maybe there was a note on the door, but the only thing posted on the door gives the hours. But it's closed and dark. Mrs. Dr. Phil noted there were still wreaths and Christmas decorations up. In August. We think that the cars we've seen in the parking lot may be an ersatz Park-n-Ride for Exit 19, as opposed to the overcrowded one at Exit 16.

And today? Well Mrs. Dr. Phil ran into town to Fajitas in the shopping area built at the old grocery store site. Going to get tasty takeout, including a large guacamole with these really excellent homemade tortilla chips. THEY were closed, with a sign saying that Somebody's Tacos would open soon. How the hell does a Mexican restaurant fail in a town with a university and where the other big Mexican restaurant in town closed only because it burned down, not due to lack of interest in good food.

Anyway, she went another mile down the road to Aroy Thai in Allendale. Gotta support our new Thai restaurant.

Because you never know how long your favorites will last...

Dr. Phil


Today was the day of my repeat MRI with contrast of my errant left heel bone. We had a 3:45 appointment at Blodgett Hospital, not Butterworth. They said to get there at 3:15. Since we hadn't done Blodgett before, I arranged to get there around 3pm.

When Butterworth and Blodgett merged and formed Spectrum Health years ago, I knew that some people were Butterworth people and some were Blodgett. I always thought of them as equals. Now I don't quite know what to think after a brief visit on a Saturday. The Google satellite view shows a big complex in East Grand Rapids, just off Wealthy Street near Lake. Yes, Grand Rapids has a Wealthy Street.

The parking lot isn't flat, at least not near the Emergency entrance. Unlike Butterworth, with its shiny renovated and expanded facade in the Medical Mile and free valet parking for handicapped hang tags, it's up and over a slight rise, then up to the entrance from handicapped parking. We pulled out the walker. The asphalt, sidewalks and curbs weren't in bad shape, but with almost no one around it looked... forlorn. Neglected. Hence my confusion as to Blodgett's status in the Spectrum Empire.

A single double sliding door into... a vestibule. Security cop holding a garage door opener greeted us. While he did get me a wheelchair from a side room, he said that for Radiology it was easier to go back outside to the Patient Entrance -- and he's never understood why they always tell people to come in via the ER. Mrs. Dr. Phil took the walker back to the Bravada. At the Patient Entrance marker there were two different entrances, but the slightly hidden one said Outpatient Services and Radiology, so that seemed good. No one at that entrance. We just rolled, followed some signs and arrived at Radiology Check in.

A sign said to check in at the iPad-on-a-pole. But a voice from the dividers down the way directed us to cubicle 2. Finally a person. We'd gotten to the point in the paperwork where I had to check No to a lot of boxes, when (a) there was a person trying to get an ultrasound scheduled when Scheduling is closed and (b) Gloria came in at 3:15 to see if I was there. On my first MRI last year, I selected Led Zeppelin for the Pandora music feed over the noise cancelling headphones. In May I picked Queen. Today? Oh let's go for Blondie. You need something loud.

Finally paperwork done, handed my camera, keys, etc. to Mrs. Dr. Phil and then wheeled back. The Butterworth MRI was a Siemens unit. This was a 3.0 Tesla GE machine. Took them a moment to figure out what camera to use. Since the first MRI was Siemens, apparently not a flex camera. (jargon-grin) This was to be an MRI with contrast, so they had to set an IV line to be able to inject the dye at the end. Too bad the PICC line is gone. First stick must've done the old slide off the vein trick -- no joy. So second try on the back of the hand.

Hardest part of the MRI is the leg has to be kept straight, because the foot is locked into a sort of boot. That puts pressure on my left knee. But they were able to use a wedge and a pillow to keep it in place. Nice thing about the GE machine is that there was a countdown clock on its face. First two scans, which I assumed were for alignment, were just 19 seconds. First real scan, 4:54. Others of various length. "Two more scans, thirteen minutes, then we inject the dye and do two more." Hmm, 6:47 and 9:57 or whatever they were total more than thirteen. That's okay. Rinse (inject), repeat.

And then it was done.

Hopefully I'll hear results on Monday.

Of course through all this I still feel fine. Only problems today was I noticed some overheating in the Bravada. Added some coolant when we got home. Mrs. Dr. Phil will stop by and have it checked Monday.

Entropy sure sucks.

Dr. Phil

What The Hell...?

So this morning Mrs. Dr. Phil was changing my bandage and dressing, when she suddenly asked, "What the hell is this?" This being a little strip of something, underneath all the bandaging.

Turned out we think it's one of the "missing" pieces of hydraferra blue, the dressing material we haven't used since July 30th, when the bleeding started up.

Counting Sponges

Twice we've not found the hydraferra blue upon opening up the bandaging. Both times we were concerned that since it gets slimy and can slide around, maybe it slid into one of the undercut regions. Both times the Wound Clinic people probed around and found nothing. The first time, we found a fairly clean piece of the dressing in the garbage and speculated that it had simply fallen out while Mrs. Dr. Phil wrestled with the tape sticking to the gloves, and never been in there. The second time the visiting nurse was unwrapping the wound and we just couldn't find it. And, as you do, we wondered whether in all the steps and cleaning it just hadn't gotten in there.

But now, of course, we're certain this got stuck somewhere in a cavity under the skin for some two weeks. Maybe even packed in tighter by the probing -- it's foam based and designed to be packed into small places. The piece is rectangular, maybe 3.5cm x 1.0cm x 1.5mm thick. The foam material is sturdy. Starts out dark blue-purple and fades with use. This piece is devoid of color, more whitish on the outside that would have been against the bandage, tinged darker from blood on the other. We saved it, of course, wrapped into one of the packaging bits that has a clear panel.

We would've known earlier if we hadn't had to wait some two weeks for the repeat MRI, since it would have shown up then -- it should be on the MRI taken yesterday, but of course it's out now.

So it's good that it's out. It's good that we have a source of the irritation, rather than just a pressure wound -- especially because the original wound has been healing so well and the foot had been looking good before this.

A little unsettling that we don't know what damage this has done. The stuff started out sterile, is supposed to promote healing, at least while the active ingredient is there, and there's no sign of infection, just drainage. Hopefully it can all heal now, unless they want to open up the undermined area. Don't need any big setbacks -- I've had sufficient, thank you very much.

And is it psychological, or just part of the limited feeling I have in my foot, that my foot feels better today walking around on it?

I tell you, this has all be one great adventure.

Out, out, damned spot!

Dr. Phil